Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 pm Buttercream

Last night at 5 pm--known as "the witching hour" to those with children for good reason--I tried, for the first time, to make swiss buttercream. Do you know about swiss buttercream? I do. I know all about regular buttercream, swiss buttercream, italian buttercream, and french buttercream.

I would like to take a moment to insert a public service announcement: If you are so foolish as to become obsessed with buttercream while surrounded by the chaos of three little boys (well, four, see below) as a checking out/coping mechanism, do not accidentally get sidetracked and type "french butt" into a google search.

Swiss buttercream is made with a meringue that is first whisked over a pot of simmering water. Such a task is not something that one should attempt while bouncing a fussy baby and hosting yet another boy for a playdate. Just to be clear, this upped the boy total in my house to four, ages 4 months, nearly 5, 7.5 and 8. I was also making steak, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, steamed green beans, and (boxed--homemade would have pushed me into the range of certifiably insane) macaroni and cheese for dinner.

Thinking back on last night, I wonder why I attempt such things. (The buttercream, by the way, didn't turn out quite right. I think I didn't whip the meringue enough before adding the butter. But I added some powdered sugar and managed to turn it into a fine regular old buttercream.) Here's the thing: my life is chaotic. I think I try to find some calm in the madness, but it is filled with a lot of noise and activity. It isn't that we are over scheduled--in fact, I think I keep my boys' activities to a minimum--but my children are full of energy. They are opinionated. They speak loudly. They rise early. And when I put too much effort into calming the storm, so to speak, I just become depressed. What saves me is going about my own business within the chaos.

And so I bake. I cook. I research buttercream. I scrub the floor. Because it all makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. And I like eating good food and having a clean house.

And you know what? Sometimes within this chaos that is my life right now, I am able to step outside of it all for a moment, and see it for what it is: beautiful, messy, joyful life that is racing along faster than I know.

This morning, we were downstairs looking for Luke's scrapbook. He is apparently having a drawing smackdown with one of the older boys at his school. Luke says he is a better artist than this 10 year old. Luke has challenged him. An outside judge (the 10 year old's brother and Luke's classmate) will determine the winner.

So we were late for school, and we were running down to the basement to find the scrapbook, Henry helping, me carrying Silas. We found it and were running back up the stairs, Luke in front, Henry next, and me in the back, carrying Silas facing outward, as he now prefers. And I saw my little brood, lined up by size, running up the stairs. And I could see them next summer, all three of them with Silas following them himself. And I could see the next summer, with Luke nearly 10 and wanting his little brothers to leave him alone. I could see my life, lined up on the stairs.

And it is amazing. Even if I never master swiss buttercream.

29 comments:

Karyn said...

This post made me a might bit weepy. You are beautiful, Ser, and as sweet - and complex - as swiss buttercream. Your boys are lucky to have such an amazing mom who realizes what is important in life. Miss you so much.

Christine said...

I totally agree with having to have your own life within the chaos. I too have active, noisy, opinionated children...they're just girls. :) But I do the same thing...I cook things that fascinate me, I write short stories, I clean, I scrapbook, I quilt....all in very small snippets, but enough to keep me sane. And through that, I think I am slowly rediscovering my own identity. I'm not only a Mom, I'm still me.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. Especially the part where you see your life lined up on the stairs. Love, Mom

Anonymous said...

By the way, who won the art smackdown? Mom

so yung wilson said...

Very sweet. Very, very sweet.

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